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Can Winter Hats Harm Your Hair?

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on December 2, 2018 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Hair Care Tips

Winter weather is right around the corner, and that means that warm, fuzzy hats are likely your go-to way of keeping your head warm. Many winter hats, like beanies, can be worn all day and incorporated into your outfits to prevent dreaded hat hair.

However, if you’re pulling on a beanie or other winter hat every day to fight the cold, you should know about the effects regular hat use can have on your hair and scalp. Tight hats and pulling on the hair can lead to more than just a bad hair day.

Here are some of the top dangers of winter hats:

  • Lead to hair breakage: One of the leading causes of hair breakage in the winter is hats. This is because hair gets smashed down and pulled on all winter long by tight fibers. Pulling on a hat and taking it off repeatedly can weaken your strands and cause areas of wear from the friction. Eventually, this can lead to breakage and split ends.
  • Cause scalp issues: Sebum, oils and dead skin have a tendency to accumulate on your hat and on your scalp when you wear a hat for a long time. This, coupled with the fact that many winter hats aren’t very breathable, means all that buildup sits on your scalp for extended periods of time. This can actually irritate the scalp, clog hair follicles and lead to infections of the scalp that make it itchy and/or dry.
  • Makes hair look and feel oily: When your scalp and hair can’t breathe under a tight wool cap, oil will continue to accumulate. When you take your hat off, your hair is more likely to look oily because of all the accumulated oil on your scalp. Not only will this feel gross, but it will most likely ruin your hairstyle and make your hair appear flat, too.
  • May lead to hair loss: Hats don’t directly cause hair loss in most instances, but men and women may experience hair loss if they wear hats that are very tight or if they are already experiencing the effects of hair loss. Tight hats can cut off the circulation of blood and nutrients to the hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Additionally, friction on the hair can pull hairs out that were preparing to shed, making it seem like you’re losing more hair. In some cases, very tight hats can pull on the hair excessively, causing traction alopecia. This is most likely to occur around the hair line.

Preventing hat-related hair damage

Fortunately, hats don’t have to wreak havoc on your hair. By taking the necessary precautions, you can rock a winter hat and have great-looking and -feeling hair all season long.

  • Nourish it: Healthy hair is the least likely to break as a result of friction. To keep your hair healthy and strong, eat a healthy diet and take supplements that support healthy hair growth to combat breakage.
  • Keep it moisturized: Another reason hair breaks easily is because it is dehydrated. Keeping your hair moisturized is particularly important in winter, because the dry air tends to suck moisture quickly. Use a conditioner regularly and incorporate hair masks and oils into your routine to keep hair soft and silky.
  • Choose a breathable hat: If you live in an area where the cold isn’t too bitter, try choosing a hat that is less tight and more breathable. Hats made completely from natural fibers will be more breathable, allowing your scalp to get fresh air and blood to properly circulate.
  • Take a break: As cozy and cute as your hat may be, you should be sure to take it off every once in a while to let your hair and scalp relax and breathe. Taking days off from wearing hats can help combat hair flatness, sebum buildup and scalp problems like dryness or infections.
  • Clean the hat regularly: Don’t forget to throw your hat in the wash after every few wears to get all the oil and dead skin out of its fibers! The more you wear it, the more your hat will soak up oil and skin cells, contributing to the buildup on your scalp every time you put it back on. Wash it clean to keep your scalp and hair healthy.

Winter hats have the potential to cause damage to your hair, but only if you wear them too often and forget to let your hair and scalp breathe. Don’t be afraid to rock an adorable hat this winter—just be sure to also let your hair fly free and keep it nourished and moisturized, too!

Read also: When Life gives you Lemons, Use them for Healthy Hair!

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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